Student Speakers

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Sarah Lawrence, MS3 at David Geffen School of Medicine

Presentation Title: Lessons Learned from the UC Global Health Institute’s Advocacy Initiative

Sarah Lawrence is a third year medical student at UCLA. She has a passion for service and a truly interesting and varied background. She graduated high school at 15, lived on a tall ship in the South Pacific for a year, studied Farsi and Arabic, and worked in a Bolivian orphanage before college. While completing her degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at Berkeley, Sarah held leadership roles in a number of international non-profits and national organizations focusing on global social justice issues. After graduating in 2010, she worked in international development where she led on-the-ground efforts to rethink health care delivery in East Timor and worked on USAID stability operations in southern Afghanistan. Sarah also worked in Cape Town, South Africa as an EMT on ambulances and in government hospitals for two years and was a founding member of  Prosperas International - an NGO working to address childhood malnutrition in the Philippines through sustainable community gardens and partnerships with local agricultural universities. After beginning medical school at UCLA in 2016, Sarah served as Chair of the Speaker Committee for the 2017 LAGHC, and developed and served as Program Director for the UCGHI Advocacy Initiative where she recruited and trained over 30 undergraduate through post doc students across the UC system in how to advocate for global health within the US political context.

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Jacqueline Pei, Researcher at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute

Presentation Title: Lessons Learned from the UC Global Health Institute’s Advocacy Initiative

Jacqueline Pei graduated UCLA in 2018 with a B.S. in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. She spent her undergraduate years editing the politics section for a newsmagazine, advocating for global health funding through the UC Global Health Institute's advocacy initiative, and working on research that was published in Nature on the use of CRISPR to slow retinal degeneration in mice, and in Cell on the use of artificial intelligence to diagnose retinal disorders from OCT scans. She is currently researching how Vitamin A is processed in the retina and better understand the molecular mechanisms defining the progression of Stargardt's disease, a form of macular degeneration. In her spare time, Jacqueline enjoys teaching and practicing yoga. She plans to attend medical school in the future. 

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Betty Nguyen, MS1 at UC Riverside School of Medicine

Presentation Title: Lessons Learned from the UC Global Health Institute’s Advocacy Initiative

Betty Nguyen is a first-year medical student at the University of California Riverside School of Medicine. During her undergraduate at UCLA, she helped develop and implement the U.C. Global Health Institute Advocacy Initiative and served as the Logistics Co-Chair of the 2016 and 2017 Los Angeles Global Health Conference. Betty's interest in global health disparities led her to South Africa, where she studied medical anthropology and volunteered in townships. Bridging the global to the local, she conducted community-based participatory research with homeless families in Los Angeles. After undergraduate, Betty worked as a study coordinator for three R01 NIMH grants at UC Irvine’s Department of Psychiatry. Betty plans to continue global health advocacy and clinical research as a physician, with the goal of improving health outcomes for low-income communities.

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Neda Ashtari, MS1 at David Geffen School of Medicine

Presentation Title: Promoting public access to the life-saving drug Xtandi: responsible licensing practices and the role of student advocacy

Neda Ashtari is a first-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Advocacy Chair of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). She first discovered her passion for health advocacy during her mother’s 12-year-long battle with breast cancer. When her mother was denied health insurance due to pre-existing conditions, Neda and her family witnessed first-hand the financial, physical, and emotional burden of disease on patients and their families. This prompted Neda’s decade-long work with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Susan G. Komen Foundation-- facilitating workshops at the ACS Leadership Conference, serving as a Cancer Action Network Advocate and ACS Legislative Ambassador, and founding the first high school Relay for Life in California. After receiving the Susan G. Komen College Scholarship for cancer-related community service, she served as a Komen Student Ambassador and co-chair of Colleges against Cancer at UCLA. Neda received her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art from UCLA in 2016 and plans to pursue a career in medicine and health policy.

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Simon Levinson, Clinic Chief & Founding Member of the Los Angeles Human Rights Initiative, Second Year Medical Student at UCLA

Presentation Title: Asylum In Los Angeles: The Role of the Physician As The Forensic Evaluator

Simon Levinson is a second year medical student at UCLA.  In January, 2018 he became a founding member of the Los Angeles Human Rights Initiative (LAHRI, formerly DGSOM Asylum Clinic) and has worked with an incredible team at UCLA, Physicians for Human Rights, USC and UCLA-Olive-View to grow the initiative into an organization able to provide dozens of forensic evaluations per year to asylum seekers in Los Angeles. Since the LAHRI’s inception in January 2018, he has served as Clinic Chief where he, along with fellow second year UCLA student Fangning Gu lead a team of 16 other medical students and faculty board members and oversee a network of more than 30 physicians, 40 medical students volunteers, and 20 residents dedicated to providing forensic medical evaluations for victims of human rights abuse. During his time as clinic chief he has organized the largest ever forensic medical evaluation training in Los Angeles for nearly 200 clinicians and students, developed protocols for scheduling forensic evaluation cases, forged partnerships with organizations such as Program for Torture Victims, Physicians for Human Rights and Kids in need of Defense, and secured grant funding and coordinated multiple research and advocacy projects for the LAHRI.  Outside of the LAHRI, Simon conducts research on pediatric epilepsy and neural mapping with MRI diffusion tractography.

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Simone Renault, M.D. Candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Presentation Title: Minding the mental health care gap: From the classrooms of New Delhi to the streets of West Hollywood

As the lone child living in the international student dormitory at Eden Theological Seminary, Simone was raised by her “aunties and uncles” from all over the world. The relationship between individual identity and global community fostered in that early environment is at the heart of her desire to become a physician. She’s happiest when she is innovating within the gaps of health care, leading UCLA Mobile Clinic Companion Care, an accompaniment initiative connecting persons experiencing homelessness in West Hollywood to medical, mental health, and social services; founding Girl the World Over, an empowerment platform for girls’ education; and founding The ImmUNITY Campaign, the first student organization committed to advancing equitable access to vaccines. She received the 2014 Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award for her work. Through a fellowship with the NIH Fogarty International Center, Simone continued her work on immunization capacity-building at the Gambian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. She has interned with Partners In Health and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law examining the feasibility of a Framework Convention on Global Health. Simone served as teaching assistant for the University of Global Health Equity in Kigali, studied the impact of social support networks on stroke outcomes in Boston, provided daily care for orphans in a Romanian neurocritical care unit, and studied the confluence of health and social work in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. She most recently returned from New Delhi where she was on the research team designing and evaluating a stepped-care psychosocial intervention for common mental health problems in Delhi’s government-run schools. Simone holds degrees in Biology and International Studies from the University of Iowa, her honors thesis focusing on the biosociality of global eradication initiatives.

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Nirshila Chand, MPH, DRPH Student at Claremont Graduate University, School of Community and Global Health

Presentation Title: An Inclusive Summer Learning- International Center for the Research on Women, New Delhi-India

Nirshila Chand is a third-year Doctoral Student (DrPH) at Claremont Graduate University, School of Community and Global Health.  Her inspiration has always been driven by her cultural heritage and roots from the Fiji Islands as she is Fiji Indian with her family history from South Asia.  Furthermore, as immigrants from the Pacific Islands 29 years ago, she grew up with her family in an enriching and blending of global communities in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, Ca.  She is excited to share her cultural history and global experiences at the LAGHC. 

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Ambika Verma, Second Year Undergraduate Student at UCLA

Presentation Title: Take Back Our Medicines: The Access to Medicines Crisis

Ambika Verma is a second-year undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Human Biology and Society with a planned minor in Global Health and hopes to pursue an MD/MPH in the future to advocate for underprivileged populations. Ambika is currently serving as an Advocacy and Campaigns intern for the organization Universities Allied for Essential Medicines where she learns about drug pricing and the access to medicines landscape through research and direct advocacy in order to better understand global health disparities. Aside from her internship, Ambika is involved with research at the Center for Health Sciences, is a member of the Bruin Belles Service Association, volunteers weekly at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center, and works with Project Rishi at UCLA, which addresses various disparities and promotes sustainable development in rural India. Outside of school, her hobbies include traveling and learning about other cultures, photography, and reading.

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Erin Kelm, UCLA Anderson School of Management '18

Presentation Title: Impactful Partnerships: Addressing the Noncommunicable Disease Burden in Rural South Africa

Erin Kelm is a recent graduate of the UCLA Anderson School of Management Class of 2018. At Anderson she focused on Healthcare Management. On campus she was a leader of the Healthcare Business Association and Women’s Business Connection which represent two of her greatest passions – healthcare and women in business. Prior to graduate school, she worked in Life Sciences strategy consulting for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies at Fuld + Company after graduating from Boston College with a degree in Biology in 2014.

Erin is now a member of the Commercial Leadership Program at Amgen, where she will rotate through the functions of sales, marketing, and market access over the next three years. She hopes to make her mark on the healthcare industry by helping pharmaceutical companies successfully and efficiently deliver their therapies to patients in need as a marketer.

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Colin Meade, UCLA Anderson School of Management '18

Presentation Title: Impactful Partnerships: Addressing the Noncommunicable Disease Burden in Rural South Africa

Colin Meade is a recent graduate of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Class of 2018. At Anderson, he focused on Healthcare Management and Operations. Before business school, Colin worked as a financial analyst at AMN Healthcare, the nation’s leader in clinical staffing, and for the service program Inglés Abre Puertas as a high school teacher at INSUCO, in Santiago, Chile. Most recently, he worked for CVS Health in a pharmacy operations role.

Colin currently works for HealthCare Partners as the Site Administrator for two clinics in Huntington Beach, overseeing twenty-eight providers and twelve specialties. Colin aims to serve the clinics’ patient populations and grow managed care in Southern California while also playing beach volleyball as much as he can.

Poster Presenters